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Tai Chi & Health
   

 



About Tai Chi and Health



The fast-paced yet sedentary nature of modern life often results in stress and lack of sufficient physical activity. Many thousands of individuals have found the massage-like movements of Tai Chi to be an effective therapy for a wide range of health problems, including poor circulation, headaches, high blood pressure, arthritis, back pain, breathing difficulties, digestive and nervous disorders, to name but a few.

Tai Chi has an extra degree of stretching and turning in each movement, placing the emphasis on health improvement. With diligent practice, this type of movement produces a profound effect on all systems of the body by reducing tension, improving circulation, and increasing strength and flexibility.

By restoring proper circulation and relieving tension in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, Tai Chi helps optimise the functioning of the body, restoring health and maintaining the proper functioning of all systems, organs and tissues.

In time, Tai Chi becomes an internal art that penetrates deeper than just the muscles, to benefit the entire physiology of the body.

Medical evidence for the health benefits
The health benefits of Tai Chi and other forms of Tai Chi Chuan are numerous and well documented. A review of medical literature conducted by the Tai Chi Society's Medical Advisers found documented evidence for the following effects of regular Tai Chi practice:
Tai Chi is a moderate cardiovascular training exercise, which also has a significant effect on lung function.
Tai Chi can beneficially alter the lipid profile, raising the possibility that practising Tai Chi might be favourable in the prevention of atherosclerosis.
Tai Chi is one of the few exercises that is appropriate for virtually any person regardless of their condition - it can even be done in a chair or bed. It has also been shown to improve the activities of daily living for people with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis - to name a few.
Tai Chi helps regulate the immune system.
Tai Chi helps postural alignment and helps reduce spinal degeneration.
Tai Chi is a weight bearing exercise, which raises the possibility of benefits for maintaining bone density.
Tai Chi is rated as a highly effective exercise for prevention of falls in the elderly.
An American organization named the Claude Pepper Foundation, Inc. did a scientific study to determine the best method of improving balance in persons over age 65 and thereby decreasing the risk of falls causing injury. In a letter dated March 5, 1997, it states:
"Our pilot results indicated that the Tai Chi form of exercise was far superior to the traditional American physical therapy intervention to increase strength and enhance balance in older persons".

Many medical practitioners whose patients are practitioners of Tai Chi or who are practitioners themselves have recognized and endorsed the health benefits of Tai Chi. The following extract is just one example.

"The movements of Tai Chi have the potential for maintaining flexibility of joints, improving balance (thus preventing falls), increasing strength of lower limbs and correcting posture. Particular attention is paid to spinal movements and thereby stability of the lower back.
The sequence also encourages circulation of blood and lymph. Because the set is performed while standing, weight bearing assists bone formation and the prevention of osteoporosis.

The benefits of Tai Chi extend beyond simply attaining physical health. Concentration and recall are demanded to acquire the sequence of the 108 movements of the set. An added bonus comes from contact with others determined to improve and thereby to continue with a pleasant form of exercise."

Dr Richard Lefroy, FRACP, FAFRM, Senior Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Public Health, University of Western Australia.




 

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